Davis turns 95

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fred Davis turned 95 Monday, Aug. 15, sharing the day with his fellow residents at Lakeside Nursing Center, the staff and his friend, State Representative Homer Lenderman.

State Rep. Homer Lenderman and Fred Davis shared their birthdays on Aug. 15.

Davis and Lenderman share the Aug. 15 birth date. Even though Davis was born 40 years before Lenderman, the two became instant friends when they met several years ago.

Davis likes to be called Fred by his friends.

Arkansas is Davis' adopted home. He grew up in Chicago, Ill., a big Cubs fan. He moved to California and stayed until 1987.

He has been in Lake City for three years and said the people in Arkansas are great.

He retired after 26 years with the police department in Rohnert Park, Calif., about 10 miles south of Sana Rosa.

He said the hopes of a job took him to California.

"I was an auto mechanic," he said. "United Airlines needed mechanics and I applied for a job. They paid my way to California. They were going to fly me there but I told them I was not coming without my car so they paid for my gasoline. When I got there it was an assembly line type job. I did not take it. I was a mechanic. I found a job with a foreign car outfit."

Davis lived through the depression and remembers it as a difficult time.

"I remember a friend of my father was very wealthy on Wednesday and woke up broke on Thursday," he said. "My dad had shares of Standard Gas/Electric. They were worth $125 a share on Thursday and eight cents a share on Friday. The rug was pulled out from a lot of people. There was no help then like now."

Davis and his wife of 62 years made their home in California. He said her name was Alice but she liked to be called Helen. The couple purchased the second house built in the village. As more homes were built it was decided the neighborhood needed security.

Davis started working as a reserve police officer.

"The local police department had grown to a chief and four officers," he said. "The chief said he needed a sergeant so he was sending the four officers to take the test. I asked him if I could go along because I had been working as a reserve officer and never had any training. I was the only one who passed the test and the chief asked me to be a sergeant full time. He offered me $25 more a week than I was making so I took it."

He remembers getting written up for taking off his hat and being out of uniform.

"I took off my hat because I was talking to the Governor's wife, Nancy Reagan," he said. "My mother taught me to take off my hat when I was talking to a lady. I said you will just have to write me up because I will always take my hat off when I am talking to a lady. Mrs. Reagan was a nice person."

Davis also said Ronald Reagan was a great governor of California and was his favorite president.

Davis' father was from Wales and his mother from England.

"I was privileged to go to England and take my mother's Bible back to the cathedral where she had won it as a prize," Davis said. "I asked them if they wanted it for their archives and they seemed excited to get it."

He and his wife had one daughter and they adopted two boys.

"All the years I worked, I never cashed a check," he said. "I gave it to my wife. She took care of the house and I worked. I had no idea she was saving part of my check every week. When I retired I said I guess we will retire and sit here. She informed me we would travel. I asked her where the money would come from and she said we had a savings account in both our names. When we got married money was scarce. We agreed if I was going to spend more than $10 we would discuss it. It always worked for us."

They married in 1940. His wife passed away in 2002.

"I have had a good life," he said. "I have had the opportunity to see everything and do everything."

Davis broke his hip in December and is working on getting back on his feet.

"I will walk again," he said. "I have great therapists working with me. Lakeside is the cleanest nursing home in the country and I have made some very good friends here and Homer is one of them."

Lenderman brought a birthday cake for Davis. After friends and staff sang happy birthday they enjoyed cake, ice cream and soft drinks.

Both men agreed it was a good birthday and they enjoyed sharing it. They plan to do it again next year.

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